Security Services questioned over missing evidence in Carroll murder

THE British army had secretly bugged a car belonging to a dissident suspect on the night he was allegedly involved in the murder of police constable Stephen Carroll.

However, it can now be revealed that evidence from the bugging device was later destroyed while held inside a supposedly secure compound at an army base.

Constable Stephen Carroll became the first member of the PSNI to be murdered after he was shot while responding to a 999 call in Craigavon on the night of March 9, 2009.

The killing came just 48 hours after Real IRA gunmen had shot dead two soldiers at Massereene army barracks in County Antrim. For sometime beforehand the authorities had warned of a rising threat emanating from the various dissident Republican groupings.

Three days before Constable Carroll’s murder, then Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde had announced that he had called in an undercover British army unit to help police target dissident republicans.

He said that the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, based at the SAS headquarters in Hereford, England, would increase the PSNI’s “technical ability” but would have “no operation role.”

Orde’s decision raised issues for members of the Northern Ireland Police Board.

The SDLP said the deployment of the undercover unit had raised “the issue of who is in control” of intelligence in Northern Ireland, while Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, said it had shaken his confidence in the chief constable.

The Continuity IRA’s killing of Constable Carroll was viewed as a direct challenge to Hugh Orde and the security services.

Within 48 hours the PSNI had arrested a number of suspects

Stephen Carroll.

One of those arrested was 17 year-old John Paul Wooton.

The teenager’s Citroen Saxo car was seized by the PSNI at the same time.

Former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville was another of those questioned.

Both men were later charged with the policeman’s murder.

In court, prosecution lawyers would later allege that Wooton’s car had been parked 150 yards from the scene of the shooting and had driven off within minutes of the killing.

McConville’s DNA is alleged to have been found on a jacket recovered from the boot of Wooton’s car, which prosecutors claim also contained gun residue from the murder weapon.

One witness claimed to have seen McConville close to the scene of the shooting before the attack.

Another claimed that she had witnessed Wooton’s car parked outside McConville’s home on the morning after the attack.

It can now be revealed that the Special Reconnaissance Regiment had been covertly bugging Wooton’s car and tracking its movements on the night of Constable Carroll’s murder.

But alarmingly, army chiefs have admitted in court that data from the device used to track the getaway car on the morning after the shooting was inexplicably destroyed.

Police arrest John Paul Wooton the day after Constable Stephen Carroll’s murder.

In May 2010 a soldier from SRR made a statement to police confirming that it had Wotton’s car under constant surveillance, including the night of the policeman’s murder.

According to a witness statement seen by The Detail, the undercover soldier, whose identity has never been revealed, told detectives:

“I am in the British army, `PIN 8625’.

“I was asked to deploy a vehicle tracking device against J.P. Wooton’s vehicle, which was a gold coloured Saxo registration number FCZ 9046.’’

The level of undercover surveillance targeting Wooton was at such a level that the tracking device was programmed to send a signal from the teenager’s car via satellite every two minutes.

“Once the device was deployed, my role was to retrieve the data from the vehicle tracking device,’’ he said.

The device, understood to have been hidden in the engine of Wooton’s car, transmitted coded data back to an undisclosed army base, where SRR was secretly monitoring his movements.

Two days after Constable Carroll’s murder `PIN 8625’ was ordered to go to Maydown PSNI station on the outskirts of Derry where the teenager’s car had been taken following his arrest.

He recovered the tracking device and brought it back to SRR’s undisclosed base somewhere in Northern Ireland.

In January this year, `PIN8625’ became the first member of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment to give evidence in court since Sir Hugh’s announcement that he was deploying the specialist undercover unit to Northern Ireland in March, 2007.

His evidence went unnoticed as no members of the media were present in court for his testimony.

Evidence from PIN 8625

However, The Detail, has now obtained copies of his original statement to police and a transcript of his evidence to the court.

“I removed the vehicle tracking device from the Saxo and brought it back to my base,’’ he told police.

“I put the device into the storage area at the base.’’

He said that the potentially incriminating evidence contained on the tracking device was allowed to sit unsecured on a bench inside the army base while he went on extended leave.

“I returned to work six days later and discovered that all the data had been wiped off the vehicle tracking device which I had deployed against the Citroen Saxo.’’

However when he appeared in court, the undercover soldier claimed that only part of the evidence had been destroyed.

Speaking from behind a curtain, `PIN8625’ confirmed that data from the device had been wiped, despite being held in a supposedly secure army compound.

“ I was asked to look and see if the information was still there, which it wasn’t,’’ he said.

“You were hoping to retrieve the material right up until the car was recovered by the police on 10 March, is that right?’’ McConville’s solicitor Peter Corrigan asked:

A: “Yes’’

Q: “And were you able to obtain all that?

A: “No.’’

Q: “You were unable to retrieve it because someone had wiped the device is that correct?

A: “Yes.’’

Q: “Who wiped it?

A: “I don’t know.’’

Q: “Were you concerned that the device had been wiped?

A: “ It was unfortunate the device had been wiped but the details covering the event had been retrieved.’’

Q: “ So is it your evidence, is it, that all information up until the vehicle was taken by police was retrieved?

A: “The dates are on the download, I can’t remember. The last download would give you the date and time of the last fix.’’

Q: “You were aware that there was a gap weren’t you?

A: “Yes.’’

Q: “You were concerned about the gap naturally’’

A: “It was unfortunate.’’

Q: “Because potentially relevant evidence was lost?’’

A: “Yes.’’

Confirming how his army superiors had launched an inquiry in a bid to discover who had been responsible for destroying the evidence, he was asked:

Q: “There was an investigation wasn’t there in to who was responsible for wiping the data?’’

A: “People wanted to know why the data was erased, yes.’’

Q: “Your superiors were concerned?’’

A: “They looked in to the reasons why the data had been erased.’’

`PIN 8625’was cross-examined further by Wooton’s solicitor Andrew Moriarty.

Q: “Do you know how the data was wiped?’’

A:“No’’

Q:“Is it difficult to wipe the data?

A: “No’’

Q: “How long would it take to wipe the data?’’

A: “Not sure I can answer the question. It depends on the duration and how much information is on it.’’

Q: “Is there a procedure that has to be gone through to wipe data?’’

A: “Yes.’’

Q: “Can we infer from that it cannot be wiped accidentally?’’

A: “It can be wiped accidentally’’

Q: “Do you know whether it was wiped accidentally or whether it was wiped on purpose?’’

A: “No I don’t.’’

The soldier was cross-examined as to how vital intelligence could have been left unattended and then destroyed inside a secure army base.

Q: “Is the storage facility on your base secure?’’

A: “Yes’’

Q: “Would only authorised personnel be allowed to enter the storage area. ’’

A: “A number of people can enter the storage area.’’

Q: “Do they require specific authorisation or permission?

A: “They would have to know how the kit works. The only people who would go in there are people trained in this kind of

operation.’’

Q: “Is this a specific storage facility?’’

A: “Yes.’’

Q: “Can I take it only a small number of people with access?’’

A: “Yes.’’

Q: “And those people all have particular expertise with these devices?’’

A: “Yes.’’

Q: “In the storage facility, is there any sort of labeling system for the material stored within?

A: “We label the kit with the particular operation that it is involved with.’’

The court also heard evidence from a weapons’ contractor, identified only as witness `J’, who had supplied the device used to track Wooton’s car.

Witness `J’ was cross-examined over `PIN 8625’s assertion that the tracking device could have been wiped by accident?

Q: “There’s a set procedure isn’t there for retrieving information from the device, isn’t that correct?

A: “Yes, that’s correct.’’

Q: “There is also a set procedure for deleting information from the device, isn’t that correct?

A. “Yes. that’s correct.’’

Q: “And is it fair to say that these procedures are completely different?

A. “The two procedures are completely different.’’

District judge Alan White ruled that Wooton and McConville should be returned for trial later this year, stating:

“It is not my place to decide if the device (used to track Wooton] was accurate.

“The court will decide.

“It is not a question of whether it was accurate regarding one location, but over a whole series of locations over time.”

He added: “It would be more important if “a consistent pattern of movement emerged” rather than the accuracy of the device in relation to one place.’’

Intelligence services accused in past of withholding evidence

With many thanks to: The Detail for the original posting dated: 14 March 2011.

Follow this link to find out more: http://Security Services questioned over missing evidence in Carroll murder

RUC/PSNI accused of attempting to intimidate new witness in murder appeal

Paddy Joe Hill and Gerry Conlon leaving today’s appeal hearing

 

Two men’s appeal against convictions for the murder of PSNI constable Stephen Carroll has been adjourned until October after prosecutors claimed that new evidence has emerged in the case.

Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead as he responded to a 999 call at Lismore Manor, Craigavon in March 2009.

Brendan McConville (41) of Glenholme Avenue in Craigavon, is serving a 25 year sentence for the murder.

Sean Paul Wootton (22) of Collindale, Lurgan, is serving a 14-year term for his alleged involvement in the killing.

Their appeal against the conviction was due to open today.

However the hearing was unexpectedly adjourned after the prosecution told the court that new evidence had emerged which needed to be investigated.

Crown barrister, Ciaran Murphy QC, told the court that police had only become aware of new potential evidence last Thursday.

Mr Murphy said that as a result of the new information a detective superintendent had been appointed by the PSNI to oversee the investigation of the new evidence.

The court was told that one person had been arrested as a result of the evidence and interviewed for a two day period before being released without charge.

The court was told that as part of the same investigation police had used covert surveillance against the individual and a solicitor.

Mr Murphy described the PSNI investigation as “quite fluid” indicating that further police inquiries could take a number of weeks.

However defence counsel claimed that police were attempting to sabotage the appeal, rather than obtain investigating new evidence in the case.

McConville’s barrister, Barry Macdonald SC, told the court that the prosecution case in the original trial had relied heavily on the evidence of a witness, identified only as ‘M’.

‘M’ had been on his way to the home of a relative when he claimed to have seen Brendan McConville among a group of men close to the scene from where Constable Carroll was killed.

The murder trial heard that ‘M’ had originally identified another named individual to police, alleged to be the Continuity IRA leader in Craigavon, but `M’ had been advised not to make reference to this man in his police statement as it could lead to ‘M’ and his family being targeted.

Mr Macdonald said that a new witness had now emerged, who had not been interviewed by police at the time of the murder and had not given evidence at the original murder trial.

The court was told that this man made a sworn affidavit earlier this month in which he described ‘M’ as a “compulsive liar” and that he was regarded by his family as a “Walter Mitty” type character with a fertile imagination.

He denied that ‘M’ had visited his home on the night of the murder, as had been claimed at the original trial.

He said he’d been shocked to learn that the original trial judge had relied on ‘M’s evidence to convict Wootton and McConville.

Mr Macdonald alleged that police had forced their way into the home of the man who contradicted ‘M’s evidence on April 22 and warned him that he would be discredited if he gave evidence at the appeal.

“Two police officers called at the house of this witness on whose fresh evidence we relay,” he said.

“On my instructions it appears they forced their way into the house and proceeded to warn him that if he went to court he would be discredited.”

The court was told the man was then arrested the following day and questioned for 48 hours before being released without charge.

Mr Macdonald said that a formal complaint had now been made to the Police Ombudsman about the alleged intimidation of this potential witness and the use of secret surveillance against him and a defence solicitor.

“It appears to have been an attempt to sabotage the appeal,” the barrister told the court.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan agreed to adjourn the case until October in light of what he described as a high level of uncertainty surrounding the factual circumstances of the case.

The appeal hearing was attended by Paddy Joe Hill from the Birmingham Six and Gerry Conlon from the Guilford Four who both have questioned the evidence used to convict Wootton and McConville.

With many thanks to: The Detail and Barry McCaffrey for the original posting dated 2009.

 

Fresh concerns raised about the Stephen Carroll case

#jftc2

A SOLICITOR for one of two men convicted of the murder of PSNI/RUC officer Stephen Carroll has raised fresh concerns about the case.

John Finucane was speaking at an event organised by the Justice for the Craigavon Two campaign as part of Féile an Phobail on Friday 07/8/2015. Mr Carroll (48), was shot dead by a Continuity IRA (CIRA) sniper as he answered an emergency call in Craigavon March 2009. Two Craigavon men Brendan McConville (Yandy) and John Paul Wootton (JP) are both serving lengthy prison sentences after being convicted of his murder under joint enterprise laws. Prosecutors have never been able to attribute a role to either man, wrongly convicted, who both deny they played any part in the attack. Other speakers at the event included members of English based campaign group Jengba - Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association - and Kevin Hearty who spoke about policing in the North. During the event Mr Finucane, who represents John Paul Wootton (JP) said that "if the judge isn't sure what John Paul (JP) did then I don't think he can be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty of a plan to murder a police officer. "The role has never been described," he said. "The judge made reference at the trial that it was some sort of logistical support after the event. "At the appeal that changed to some type of logistical support either before or after. "I don't think you need to be a lawyer to have concerns that is exceptionally vague. "Again it ties John Paul (JP) into an act, a conspiracy which really there is very little evidence for." Mr Finucane is a son of Human Rights solicitor Pat Finucane who was murdered by loyalists and security force collusion in February 1989.
With many thanks to Connla YoungThe Irish Newsfor the origionial story.

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